Felicity Smoak could have been so easily bungled. All the TV clichés are there: a wisecracking geeky sidekick; a cute blonde in a short skirt; the girl who pines for her best friend. Yes, Felicity is all of those things, but she is also none of those things. Emily Bett Rickards and the Arrow writers have created a rich, complex character who impressively remains consistent without feeling stagnant. Case in point: Felicity has always been a brave character (stopping the earthquake machine, stabbing Slade Wilson, talking to Moira Queen), but this week, Felicity’s bravery reaches new levels of nerve and chutzpah. And I’m not just talking about straddling Oliver Queen. (Though that is one of my favorite topics of conversation.)
The episode starts with a bloody Thea gasping on the loft floor, where Ra’s Al Ghul left her. (How rude!) Oliver discovers her and quickly calls 911. Oliver’s panic is only outdone by his sense of helplessness as he’s forced to watch through a hospital glass window as the ER doctors try to save his sister. For someone whose life mission is to protect others, being sidelined like that must make the event that much more devastating. Thea’s heart rate recovers after temporarily flatlining; Oliver collapses back against the wall.
The next scene reveals that Thea is alive, but on life support. Oliver, crushed, is handed end-of-life paperwork. Stephen Amell deserves all kinds of kudos for this sequence of hospital scenes. Remember that Oliver is no stranger to violent tragedy, or even violent tragedy to his family members. Amell manages the tricky balance between being both a mourning big brother and a worldly assassin. He plays Oliver as raw and heartsick, but not as a complete, on-the-floor mess.
Lucky for Oliver, there’s a “magic hot tub” in Nanda Parbat. Maseo summons Oliver to tell him — oh, crap, Oliver just straight-up sucker-punches Maseo before he can start talking! Post-punch, Maseo explains that Ra’s will save Thea by healing her in the Lazarus Pit if Oliver agrees to be the heir to Ra’s Al Ghul. So it’s off to Nanda Parbat, only not without Diggle, Felicity, and Malcolm. Malcolm urges Oliver to reconsider, explaining that the Lazarus waters will change Thea and that she won’t be “the one you lost.” “That we lost,” Oliver snaps. But before Oliver can use the hot tub life machine, he needs a jet. Luckily, Felicity has a boyfriend who has one. Or does she? Ray hasn’t forgotten the Jell-O, nor can he shake the sense that Felicity loves Oliver. This time, when confronted, Felicity doesn’t deny her feelings but merely offers Ray a heartfelt apology. Because Ray’s a decent guy, he gives her the jet anyways.
At Nanda Parbat, Maseo takes Thea to prepare her for the ceremony, and Oliver gives him an icy stare. But whatever words Oliver can’t muster up, Dig can. Dig calls Maseo out on his betrayal. Maseo responds that until Dig knows what it’s like to have his last words to his child be a lie (gulp, Akio), then Dig “know[s] nothing.” Maybe Maseo didn’t get the message, though, that Dig is the moral compass of Team Arrow. Dig throws Akio’s death right back at Maseo, questioning what Akio would make of the man Maseo has become (gulp, Maseo).
Oof, what about the woman Thea’s become? The League ceremony begins, as they lower Thea, dressed in a white gown, into the bubbling water. It’s a tense moment, interrupted only by my own distracting thoughts about wet T-shirt contests. Suddenly, the ropes being used to lower her magically slip out of everyone’s hands, and it is so not safe to be in that water. Out jumps Thea, in a freaked-out, Gollum-type pose. Thea-Gollum attacks Oliver, until she is subdued with some mystical matter. These words leave a funny taste in my mouth, but: Malcolm was right!
After witnessing Thea’s transformation, Felicity, former IT girl, tracks down Ra’s, the Demon’s Head, and tells him that she is not going to let Ra’s take Oliver. Ladies and gentleman, Felicity Smoak has no chill. But Ra’s is all about the chill. The more subdued and calm he is, the more terrifying. Matt Noble understands that Ra’s persuasion and philosophy can be as powerful as his blade. He empathizes with Felicity, informing her that he left behind a woman he loved when becoming Ra’s, but reminds her that “life is often more cruel than fair.” Felicity’s fallen face as she realizes the weight of his statements is heartbreaking. He encourages Felicity to tell Oliver good-bye and that she loves him, and to “do it now, before he’s lost [in Nanda Parbat] forever.”
Ra’s depressing pep-talk worked. Felicity goes to Oliver’s bedchamber (once the candle count goes to 500, a bedroom becomes a bedchamber, okay?). Felicity, seamlessly alternating between pride, sadness, and courage, tells Oliver that even though leaving him is going to destroy her, she regrets nothing, and that Oliver shouldn’t, either. “You’ve opened up my heart in a way that I didn’t even know it’s possible … I love you,” she confesses. Oliver looks at her like a big, dumb puppy, and IT IS ON. He can’t even look away while taking his shirt off, as if she’ll disappear. All season long, Oliver’s been living like a monk, and he is very interested in making up for lost time, carrying her here, flipping her around there. It’s pretty hot stuff.
Afterward, Oliver is on the balcony staring dreamily at the moon. I’m not sure why, but he has put his shirt back on. Whatever. Felicity comes up behind him and deadpans, “So … that happened.” And for once in this whole fracking series, they’re both happy. She brings him a drink she hopes is “something alcoholic.” After they toast, she says, “I’m sorry,” and it’s revealed that she drugged his drink. She’s going to take him out of Nanda Parbat against his will. “I can’t lose you,” she says softly. Then, more determined: “I won’t.” Chutzpah!
She enlists Dig and Malcom to help her get Oliver to the jet, and they both think her idea is unworkable and dangerous. But no one says no to Felicity. Maseo tries to make amends by showing them a secret exit out of Ra’s fortress, but they’re soon surrounded by League minions. The minions are about to attack when Oliver wakes up from his druggy state and orders the minions to stand down. Oliver’s not mad that Felicity tried to get him out of Nanda Parbat, but he’s not joining their escape, either. Oliver says his good-byes (to everyone but Malcolm, ha!). Felicity makes some joke about how often they say good-bye to each other. Oliver smiles and suggests that this time, they don’t say good-bye. He encourages her to live her life, and there’s a sad but sweet kiss. As she walks away, Oliver looks like he’s been punched in the gut. I’m with you, Oliver.
Back in Starling City, Thea is home in her loft, and her head is fuzzy on events post-slaying. Malcolm tells her about Oliver’s sacrifice but reassures her that Malcolm is dedicated to taking care of Thea in Oliver’s absence. Oliver’s absence is very much on Felicity’s mind, as she goes to Laurel for comfort and breaks down in tears, telling Laurel he’s “gone.” Felicity doesn’t know how right she is that Oliver is gone. In Nanda Parbat, Oliver is branded with an arrow, told that Oliver Queen must be extinguished, and is christened with a new identity: “Al Sah-him” – a.k.a. the Arrow.
HONG KONG FLASHBACKS
A chaotic car chase ensues as Maseo, Tatsu, and Oliver try to track the Omega-Alpha virus before it can be distributed. Oliver locates the virus, but the vial the virus is in shatters on the ground.
• Oliver’s good-bye to Diggle was beautiful and touching.
• Diggle fighting with Oliver on his back and winning that fight.
• “There’s not much to toast to up here, is there?” Felicity asks Oliver. “There’s us,” he offers. DEAD.
• Felicity and Thea finally interact — yay! Oh, but Thea was crazy and probably won’t remember — boo!
• “I have seen enough movies to know that every scary fortress has a secret exit.” —Felicity, trying to convince Dig and Malcolm to escape.
• I am onboard with the idea that post-Lazurus Thea could become a big bad like Willow on season six of Buffy. If not in these last episodes, then next season.
• The jet scene where Oliver shares that he broke that drug dealer’s neck during his missing five years speaks volume of his trust and feelings for Felicity. He’s rarely spoken of that time to anyone.
MISSING THE MARK
• Lately, I’ve enjoyed the fast-paced action of the show, but sometimes I wish they would slow down a bit and let some scenes marinate a little longer.
NUMBER OF SHIRTLESS STEPHEN AMELL SCENES: 2
Was it as good for you, as it was for me? (The episode, you Olicity pervs.) Find me on Twitter to discuss.